Before it was labeled as the Regional Center of Zamboanga peninsula, Pagadian city was virtually unknown. Today though, it has been getting its fair share of tourists in the Zamboanga peninsula. The word Pagadian was derived from a local word “pangadye-on” meaning prayer or praise.
Bounded by mountain ranges, tourists would notice that Pagadian’s topography is a bit like that of Hong Kong. You’ll find that most houses in Pagadian would have rising steps which lead to gated properties or houses. To me though, Pagadian’s hilly terrain is reminiscent of Baguio city. I always tell my mom that being in Pagadian is like being in Baguio because of the mostly overcast days, and the houses with rising steps at their doors or gates.
Photo by Jerome Herrera
Photo by MikeOcampo
Another anomaly that I noticed was how the tricycles were built in Pagadian. I found that all tricycles are inclined (obviously because of the terrain). Pagadianons pride themselves in having these unique tricycles. They say that this is the only place in the country that one can enjoy public transportation which is inclined on a 25-40 degree angle. I felt intimidated to ride the strange looking vehicles at first but after riding them for a couple of times, I started to liken tricycle rides in Pagadian to roller coaster rides (especially if you are cruising uphill or downhill).
Photo by Jerome Herrera
You can also find these tricycles parked at the tricycle terminal outside of the newly built Gaisano Capital mall. The mall is the biggest in the entire Zamboanga peninsula, bigger than malls in Zamboanga city. During the past few months, Pagadian city has been experiencing a staggering increase in growth. This expansion is fueled primarily by the transfer of regional offices from Zamboanga city to Pagadian city. The Gaisano Capital mall is one of the developments that came about because of the transfer. The Gaisano Capital houses popular chains such as Jollibee, Mc Donald’s, HBC, David’s Salon, and etc. The mall’s main features are the Gaisano Capital Supermarket, Gaisano Capital Department Store, and the Gaisano Food Court.
Photo by Jerome Herrera
Another distinct feature of Pagadian is that the road network is in the form of a grid. It is almost as efficient as that of New York City. Unlike other Philippine cities wherein there are only two or three routes that you could take to reach a destination, you would find that in Pagadian, there would probably be more than a hundred routes that you can take to reach a certain destination.
About thirty minutes away from the city proper is the Pagadian Rotonda. It is a park which overlooks the Pagadian bay. Horseback riding can be found inside the circular park. Ten minutes away from the seaport are the Dao Dao islands. The islands are 1.10 hectares huge. One of the islands is called Dako (big) and the other is called Gamay (small). The activities that you could do at the Dao-Dao Islands are fishing, swimming, and boating.
Lourdes Hot and Cold Springs, which is only 32 kilometers away from the city. The springs are all natural, so it is assured that they are soothing and perfectly safe. The springs are also tapped by the city’s water district as a prime source of water for the barangays, particularly Kagawasan.
Pagadian also has its share of wonderful and beautiful waterfalls that are hidden from the entrapments of modernization.
My dad always said that the Ukay-Ukay (imported used clothing store) in Pagadian is so much better than anywhere in most of Mindanao. When he comes from this city, he would always have new clothes with him. When I got to Pagadian city, I did notice a huge number of Ukay-Ukay shops and indeed most of them does offer a wide array of nice clothing. So if you’re into Ukay-Ukay, you’d probably get some good deals here.
Why Not Go
The emergence of Pagadian city as a viable tourist destination is mostly due to the recent regional office transfers. A lot of tourist spots in the city are still being developed or renovated (from years of neglect). There remain only a small number of places to go in Pagadian which are unique and worthwhile. For people who are used to the usual beach resorts, shopping malls, nightlife, and parks, Pagadian city would probably be too tame for you.
Pagadian city is the gateway to the Zamboanga Peninsula. Since most of the cities in the peninsula are fairly small and would not take all day to tour, you could squeeze Pagadian city in a multi city Zamboanga Peninsula tour.
Best Time to Visit
Pagadian city is lovely all year round. Since the city is out of the typhoon belt area, weather systems would not affect your travel plans. Another good thing about the weather in Pagadian city is that it is usually overcast. This may be good or bad news to you, depending on the climate in your area. To me though, the occasional mild sunshine and cloudy days of Pagadian are a welcome treat.
Pagadianons celebrate two festivals every year. The first is the Pasalamat Festival in January – this festival is a form of thanksgiving by Pagadianons for the blessings they received during the past year (pasalamat means to thank or be thankful for). Pasalamat festival features a beauty pageant, parades, and trade exhibits. The other festival in Pagadian is the Megayon festival. The Megayon festival celebrates unity and between the three peoples of Zamboanga peninsula: the Christians, Muslims, and Subanens. The festival runs for a week with activities featuring cultural dances and songs, native sports competitions, peace forums, and environmental events. Megayon is held every September 17th (Zamboanga Del Sur’s anniversary as a province).
The most famous and best hotel in Pagadian city is the Hotel Alindahaw. This hotel is perfect for business travellers, vacationers, or families. The hotel is fairly new so you can expect new furnishings and the hotel to be in tip top condition. The hotel is located along Rizal Avenue, within walking distance from Gaisano Capital. You can make reservations using this contact number: 062-215400, 062-2154001.
Where & What to Eat
Greenhouse Fishing Station and Restaurant is one of the better and more upscale restaurants in the city. The place is equally lovely both day and night. Day would bring out the expanse of the complex. You would see a huge pond just besides the restaurant wherein they get the freshwater fishes that they serve to the customers. For your drinks, you could also request for fresh Buko juice served in coconut husks. At night the whole area is adorned by lights which are the perfect setting for romantic dinners.
Photo by Jerome Herrera
Another great dining option is the restaurant at the Springland Hotel and Resort. The restaurant offers delicious conventional dishes at very affordable prices. The resort features a hot spring swimming pool, a lake, and a very nice garden.
My to do List
1. Marvel at the views that Pagadian’s rolling terrain provides
2. Ride Pagadian’s wacky tricycles
3. Do some shopping at the Gaisano Capital mall
4. Dine at the Greenhouse Fishing Station and Restaurant
5. Enjoy horseback riding at the Pagadian Rotonda
6. Do some swimming at the Dao-Dao islands
7. Ukay-Ukay shopping
Since the Pagadian city airport is not yet operational, the best way to get to Pagadian is by travelling by plane to a nearby city such as Dipolog city or Zamboanga city first and then riding a bus going to Pagadian city. Bus travel from Zamboanga city to Pagadian takes six hours and around four hours from Dipolog city.
The best thing about travelling by bus is that you get to enjoy views of the mountains in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Jerome Herrera was born and has lived in Zamboanga city, Asia’s latin city for twenty years. Having lived in that part of the country for most of his life, he has extensive knowledge on that region. Over time, he hopes to see Zamboanga city regain its former glory as the tourist destination of the Philippines through its new branding as Asia’s Latin City. Read more [+]